DHL WP will be chasing a win away from home against the Kings, the Men in Blue & White having gone down 23-24 in the dying seconds of last weekend’s encounter against the Sharks XV in Athlone.
“We have regrouped well after the disappointment of last week,” said WP head coach John Dobson.
“We had to take a good hard look at ourselves and work on some areas that needed attention, not least of all our discipline. But the fact that with 12 men, a very good Sharks team only beat us in the last second, gives me some hope. It showed me that this young team has potential.”
Dobson has made seven changes – one of them a positional switch – to the team that went down last week, with Stormers stalwart Harris lining up at tighthead prop and SA Under-20 lock Botha starting in the No.4 jersey.
Rhodes, who has been passed fit from a hamstring injury, will start from the bench where he will be joined by fit-again prop Francois van Wyk and a new face in the shape of back five forward Cobus Nel.
Rhodes, Van Wyk and Nel all come into the selection equation after serious injuries to lock Ryan Olivier (knee) and prop Chris Heiberg (bicep) and Don Armand’s selection in the Stormers squad to face the Brumbies this weekend.
In other changes to the WP line-up, halfbacks Bolla Conradie and Gary van Aswegen – both of whom started against the Sharks – make way for Godlen Masimla and Kurt Coleman at scrumhalf and flyhalf, respectively, with Tim Swiel starting at fullback and Cheslin Kolbe shifting to the left-wing to replace Devon Williams, who is unavailable for selection.
“It was obviously sad to have two campaign ending-injuries for two tight forwards and the injury-list is mounting up, up front,” said Dobson.
“But it’s brilliant that this week, for a game simply must win, to welcome Brok Harris and Mike Rhodes into the squad. They have brought massive energy already and it’s also great to welcome Ruan Botha back from injury.
“This is a good Kings team and it will be a tough game, but I sense progress in our group and we hope to get our 2013 campaign properly underway on Friday.”
The DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup team to take on EP is as follows:
15. Tim Swiel
14. Pat Howard
13. Berton Klaasen
12. Marcel Brache (Captain)
11. Cheslin Kolbe
10. Kurt Coleman
9. Godlen Masimla
8. Rayn Smid
7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
6. Chris Cloete
5. Gerbrandt Grobler (Vice-captain)
4. Ruan Botha
3. Brok Harris
2. Stephan Coetzee
1. Ashley Wells
16. Jody Reyneke
17. Francois van Wyk
18. Cobus Nel
19. Michael Rhodes
20. Bolla Conradie
21. Michael van der Spuy
22. Gary van Aswegen
Referee: Lesego (Pro) Legoete